Ranking the top three Skorne Warlocks in Warmachine and Hordes.
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, continuing my series of articles on Warmachine and Hordes that examines the “Best of the Best” attributes across all models and factions. We’ll examine the top Feats, Spells, Abilities, Weapons, Stat Lines, Damage Grids, and anything else that appears on model entries in the game. All to give you a sense for which models are among the best on those categories.
This Week, the blood-soaked empire of Skorne is in the focus. Particularly, which of their Warlocks are the greatest. The Skorne errata improved the fate of many Warlocks in the faction, and there’s some really great play style differences across them in the faction. With some intriguing control options to outright smash-face play, Skorne has one of the deepest benches in the game in terms of playable Warlocks in my opinion. But let’s see if we can’t sort out the stars.
So let’s get right to it! The following are my list of the top three Skorne Warlocks in Warmachine and Hordes. At the end is a bonus “Dishonorable Mention” for the least Hoksune of the bunch.
Zaadesh2 is only the second of the “Journeyman Promotion” wave to make these lists (Horgle2 hit the Trollbloods top 3). Many of those Warcasters and Warlocks have been really good, but they lacked some certain individual flair at times that would have made them stand out. Not so for Zaadesh2.
I think it’s simple with him–he can often deliver the Skorne beasts safely to the foe. And that’s something that is a relative weakness of the faction as a whole. Sure, the Krea has had shining moments in Mark II of helping that process (and in post-errata Mark III). But Zaadesh2’s cloud wall is quite novel for the faction in a lot of ways. Skorne beasts are the best beasts in the game. If they can get there. And that’s where he shines.
Not only does the Cloud Wall help, but the counter-charge can keep foes away yet close. Most good opponents can navigate counter-charge somewhat, but even then it helps the beasts get there. And best of all, with his Feat they hit super-hard when they get there and can have a change to survive the counter-punch for another round of devastation thanks to Defensive Strike. And unlike some other “beast delivery” casters in factions, Zaadesh has ample defensive capability for himself along the way so he’s rarely the weak link. Makes for a great Warlock that lets Skorne players actually smash their beasts into the opponent to win.
Madeka2 would take the number one spot on this list, as her package of synergies can really take over a game. She only falls second because there’s a one-spell weakness that she can suffer–and even taking Orin Midwinter may not be enough to prevent it at times. But let’s talk about the positives first, because there are many.
Her ability to keep infantry from dying is huge in the game. It enables crazy-effective scenario play, as you can score or contest more effectively. It can allow high-yield infantry and solos like Ferox, Legends of Halaak, and Tyrant Rhadeim to be real melee monsters as they can more reliably survive elimination. Best of all, it forces opponents to have to over-commit to take out your forces. If you’re cagey with Makeda2 you can turn an opponent’s volume of attacks into frustration and defeat. With a spell and Feat kit to support the kind of infantry force she wants anyhow, Makeda2 proves to be a great infantry option in the Faction.
As I said above, she’d be the number one spot in the faction except for her one problem: Mortality Warcasters and Warlocks can ignore her main suite of abilities. Skorne anti-magic comes largely via Orin Midwinter, and he’s got limited uses and predictable protection. So in two-list settings, Makeda2 can for sure be a main list as long as she keeps that Achilles’ Heel in mind–and the Skorne player drops their other list if Mortality is likely. It’s enough of a weakness to not be the number one in Faction.
Rasheth has long been a great Warlock in the Faction. And it shouldn’t be surprising to see him retain his top spot. He has almost everything in his toolbox that one might want in a Warlock. Except the ability to finish a game in melee, that is. But often, if I’m finishing a game with my warlock or warcaster in melee, it’s because my opponent has failed their own assassination or has played poorly. Rasheth rarely even needs that.
Mark III was great for him, and the Skorne errata in January did even more for him. With the right mix of force, he can be really punishing for a foe. With a huge control range and ability to channel through infantry, Rasheth gets his spells where he needs them. And when they get there, they do work. He’s able to really swing ARM with Feat and spells, able to fix MAT, able to control infantry with corrosion AOEs, and shut down channeling and animi.
Most of all, his huge Fury stacks lets him get the most out of his Warbeasts. With beast handlers helping too, his Warbeasts can get huge amounts of work done without risking being out of control. And Skorne warbeasts are destructive when they can go all out. The big control range means more reach, more effects, more ability to ruin foes’ plans. And it’s the core of why he’s the highest utility in faction and the best Warlock Skorne has to boot.
Everything Xekaar can do, Morghoul2 can do better. It’s that easy.
Now compared to Morghoul2 there are two areas where he might shine. His Feat helps a little more if you’re protecting high DEF infantry from models that would be able to shake Blind. And if you have some anti-Hordes scheme where you’ll load enemy beasts with unexpected Fury thanks to the Agonizer and Feat to lower their threshold, then yeah, Morghoul2 can’t do that.
Now to the actual downsides of Xekaar. He’s easy to assassinate if he’s being anything but a beast buddy that’s casting Psycho Surgery. He’s easy to assassinate if he uses his Feat, or applies Mortality. And yes, maybe if he can use a Minions Blindwalker now in the current-CID tested Skorne theme as a channeler he’ll have play… but still Morghoul2 might do that better. And if you don’t want him to be assassinated, it’ll take way over-spending on points to make him safe. Which means less effectiveness on the battlefield. I’m not saying that people don’t ever win games with him. But Xekaar simply isn’t a an effective Warlock compared to alternative models in the faction. His main role is the first three weeks of a Journeyman league. Don’t fret though, when Mark IV comes along I’m sure he’ll get his due like the Mark II journeyman-only box casters (Madrak1 and Kaya1) received. Oh… Wait…
~ Does this ranking fit your thoughts? Did we miss a critical attribute? Was a great model overlooked, or a powerful interaction missed? Is Number One really that good? Do you think the “Dishonorable Mention” is not so dishonorable after all? Let us know in the comments below!
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